A Medical Device Daily
A report in the September issue of Biosecurity and Bioterrorism provides a picture of healthcare usage in the New York City region in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The study shows that while healthcare usage markedly declined in the three weeks immediately after the attacks, healthcare claims then rose above expected levels during the following months.
Researchers from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University (Atlanta) analyzed insurance claims from January 2000 to March 2002 for more than 2 million people living in the New York City region and enrolled in healthcare plans offered by Aetna. The study examined insurance claims for mental health conditions as well as a variety of physical conditions that may be triggered or aggravated by emotional stress.
The study found that healthcare use slowed in the weeks immediately following 9/11. In addition, distance from the World Trade Center (WTC) affected the use of some health services, with the greatest declines observed among those living closest to the center. For example, office visits declined 11% overall and 15% for those living within 10-miles of the WTC. This represented 75,000 fewer office visits than expected during the three weeks after 9/11.
Following declines in use in September, the greatest climbs in claims in the remaining months of 2001 were concentrated in such conditions as irregular heat beats, fainting, chest pain, or ulcers. The increases were greatest among those living within 10 miles of the WTC. For example, visits for ulcers increased by 21% and care for fainting rose 43%, as did visits for rashes and urticaria, or hives, which increased 12% and 28%, respectively.
Overall, the increase in office visits represented an increase of more than 200,000 visits over expected levels between October 2001 and March 2002.